Beastmen (2200 points) vs Empire (2000 points); 12Jun12

As we bring the Border Princes campaign to a close, I have one final game against Furycat.  Overall, it feels like honour is even between our forces, but now the new Empire army book is hamstringing him significantly, so it’s time for me to change things up and make it more of a game.  Furycat is a big fan of the video battle reports from Oncebitten360, and although I don’t care for the format of video battle reports in general, I checked them out on recommendation.  So, in homage to Oncebitten360, I decided to forego my usual Great Bray Shaman in favour a Doombull with all the trimmings and frankly ludicrous block of Minotaurs.  I’ve never really felt like I can get Minotaurs to work well in the past so I’m keen to test it out.

Doombull, Axes of Khorgor, Ramhorn Helm, Dawnstone, Gnarled Hide, Heavy Armour (D)

Gorebull, BSB, Beserker Sword, Talisman of Endurance, Heavy Armour (BSB)

Bray Shaman, level 2, Dispel Scroll, extra hand weapon, Lore of Shadow (BS1)

Bray Shaman, level 2, extra hand weapon, Lore of Beasts (BS2)

40 Gors, extra hand weapon, full command (G)

40 Ungors, full command (U)

Tuskgor Chariot (TC)

6, 5 and 5 Ungor Raiders, musician (UR1 to UR3)

5 Harpies, scouts (H)

9 Minotaurs, full command, Ironcurse Icon (M)

Furycat has been struggling to get a list that suits his style, but I gather that the plan here is that the Lore of Heavens will provide a massive bonus to Knights, especially if the boosted version of Harmonic Convergence is cast.

Wizard Lord, level 4, Dispel Scroll, Lore of Heavens (WL)

Captain of the Empire, general, Helm of the Skavenslayer, Dawnstone, full plate armour, shield (C)

Captain of the Empire, BSB, Shrieking Blade, barded warhorse, full plate armour, shield (BSB)

Warrior Priest, Enchanted Shield, barded warhorse, heavy armour (WP)

Master Engineer, frilly shirt (M)

9 Knights of the Inner Circle, lances, shields, full command (IC)

5 Knightly Orders, great weapons, standard bearer, musician (KO)

45 Spearmen, full command (S)

5 Archers [Detachment to Spearmen] (A)

24 Greatswords, full command, Standard of Discipline (G)

Celestial Hurricanum (CH)

3 Demigryph Knights, standard bearer (DK)

Helblaster Volley Gun (HVG)

We randomly get Blood and Glory as the scenario, and a variety of surprisingly mundane terrain to fight over.  In the North is a Wyrding Well and in the far East is a Sorcerous Portal that we instantly forget about as usual.  The Wizard Lord gets Iceshard Blizzard, Curse of the Midnight Wind, Comet of Cassandora and Chain Lightning; sadly forgetting that the whole point of coming along was to bring Harmonic Convergence.  The Shadow Bray Shaman takes Melkoth’s Mystifying Misama and Enfeebling Foe; the other one has Wyssan’s Wildform and Curse of Anraheir.  The Beastmen happily take first turn, with one herd of Raiders ambushing.

As usual, there’s nothing too subtle in first turn movement for my Beastmen: everyone marches forward.  The Raiders in the West move to tempt either the Inner Circle Knights or the Demigryph Knights into charging through the forest.  I roll up 3,1 magic dice, but fail to cast Miasma on the Inner Circle Knights and the follow-up (Wildform on the Gors) is easily dispelled.

As I hoped, the Demigryph Knights charge into the baiting Raiders (the forest turns out to be a Wildwood, but it doesn’t attempt to beat them up).  However, the Greatswords and the Inner Circle Knights both fail their charges, on the Ungors and the Tuskgor Chariot respectively.  The Wizard Lord leaves his Archer companions to their fate, which apparently is to be a speed bump in front of the Gors.  The Spearmen also move up to face the inevitable charge from the Minotaurs, but crucially they can’t fully align so their flank is hanging slightly to the West.  The winds of magic give us 5,1 dice to play with and I let Chain Lightning through on the Tuskgor Chariot.  In retrospect, that was probably a poor idea as it jumps across half of my army, reducing the Chariot to a single wound, killing the Beasts Bray Shaman and taking off wounds from the Gors, Minotaurs and Ungors.  Ouch.  At least I dispel Iceshard Blizzard.  The Helblaster and the Archers plink a handful of Gors, but it’s not enough to matter.  Finally, the Demigryph Knights make short work of the Raiders and reform to face the line of battle.

It’s turn two and there are targets in charge range, so I happily send the Gors into the Archers, the Minotaurs into the Spearmen and the Ungors into the Greatswords.  I’m not expecting much from the Ungors, but against the Greatswords they’ll be steadfast for long enough to get something else in to help out.  The Harpies charge the Wizard Lord (who flees), fail to redirect into the Engineer and then roll 1,1,1 for charge distance anyway.  Idiots.  I consider charging with the Tuskgor Chariot, but with only one wound left it’ll do me more good keeping those pesky Inner Circle Knights out of my hair for a bit longer.  The same goes for my remaining Raider herd (once the Bray Shaman has run off, of course), moving into the path of the Knightly Orders.  I generate 6,2 magic dice and am greatly helped by the fact that the Wizard Lord is running for his life.  Miasma (-3WS) and Enfeebling Foe (-1S) both go on the Greatswords after two failed dispel attempts.  In the combat phase, the Gors blend the Archers into a fine red mist, and their overrun allows them to charge the flank of the Spearmen.  To no-one’s surprise, there aren’t many Spearmen left after the attentions of a horde of Gors a Doombull, a Gorebull and bunch of other Minotaurs.  Furycat decides that there’s no way back and throws in the towel.  Victory for the Beastmen!

Well, that was one sided.  Furycat discussed this for a while after the game and, while I think he might have been able to kill off a few things, he probably wasn’t going to pull a win out.  I did consider not even writing this battle report up as it was so short, but in the end I decided that I should do it in the interests of completness.  There’s probably not much to learn for any Beastmen readers out there (except that so many Minotaurs is probably overkill), but if anyone can make suggestions on how the Empire could have been played then I would be delighted to read about them.

Categories: Battle reports, Border Princes, Campaigns, Warhammer Fantasy Battle | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Beastmen (2200 points) vs Empire (2000 points); 12Jun12

  1. I can’t leave you any advice on Empire – I’ve played them a bunch of times under the old book rules and recently a few turns with the new book and models against an avid Empire enthusiast – but as a general commanding the army, I have no experience! All I can say is that they are so similar to the variety of approches that make their build as flexible as my own Orcs & Goblins – perhaps without the staying power or the undependable animosity, but nonetheless, getting the demigryphs bogged down is a must, and from what I hear – the knightly orders are very underrated and well-worth engaging first if possible. I think your build as beatmen is a comfortable one for you-you know your army and have something that is brawny and adaptable. I’d have liked to see the game run another turn with the Empire’s wizard rallying a comeback, just to see what’d happen without the magic phase playing such a determining role-but I would have to say that short games are testimony to smart leadership-good job!

    PS – have been itching to post my own battle reports (once I stop losing so much! Every game is a learning experience I keep telling myself!) Is there a partciular software or image app that you use for your diagrams, or is that all your own work? I’d like to include some layout details without the extraneous text (like the above! sorry for hogging space!) – but don’t know how to best approach it!
    Thanks in advance for any and all help and look forward to the next post!

  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment, and don’t worry about the amount of text. I certainly value a post with a bit of meat in it.

    Furycat has lots of experience with the previous version of the Empire army book and he was pretty handy with it. And while I don’t mourn the loss of the most irritating things (notably, the all-or-nothing aspect of the Steam Tank, the unbreakable indestructable Arch Lector on War Altar and the S3 large blast Mortar), the overall reduction in power seems excessive. If I can put words in Furycat’s mouth, I’d say that he has found the flexibility of the new book to be nice, but the problem is that, at some stage, you have to be able to kill swathes of the opposing army, and nothing he has yet tested has really been able to do so. To put it into perspective, I have lost plenty of games against Furycat playing old Empire (just look down the rest of the blog for evidence), but since the release of the new book his best result is a single draw against me playing his Tomb King army for the first time. All that said, I agree that he’s at a slight disadvantage in that I’m pretty familiar with the capabilities of my Beastmen while Furycat is still learning what is effective in his own army. It’s also worth noting that I have a 200 point advantage here (for campaign reasons), although it’s far from unknown in the Border Princes campaign for the underdog to pull out a glorious victory.

    For battle reports, I use Battle Chronicler, which is free and reasonably easy to use. I’ve also heard of people using Vassal for the same effect. I wouldn’t worry about posting victories more than defeats. You’ll get more useful feedback on your losses, and writing them up will probably let you focus on what went wrong. In general, it’s pretty easy to blame a defeat on one bad die roll (e.g. your general getting hit by Dwellers Below) when in fact there were a lot of other good opportunites to have played better. I look forward to vicariously enjoying your exploits.

    • Thanks for the links and advice! Will have to learn ow to use those programs before long! I follow what you mean about learning or relearning his army – he has the models and leadership, but the goalposts have shifted slightly, and that is an inherent disadvantage of a new book – hopefully balanced by the new opportunities it presents too! Thanks again for sharing the knowledge and talk soon!

  3. Flames of the Phoenix

    Congrats once again on a fine victory for the Beastmen. I am sad to see that the campaign is coming to a close? When will the next one start?

    • Thanks, as always, for the nice comment.

      I am slightly sad that the campaign is coming to an end, but I would say that it’s a good time for it. If we played up to the full 20 turns (as per the suggested rules in the General’s Compendium) the Orcs & Goblins and possibly also the Bretonnians would be wiped out, and the game would be (even more of) a huge grind in the centre of the map. It’s been a lot of fun, at least for me, and I think that the other players have also enjoyed themselves.

      As for another… never say never. Warhammer 40K 6th edition is back in vogue in our gaming group, so I suppose that we might well run a campaign in that system; Forkbanger posted some ideas for an event-driven campaign a while ago.

      • Flames of the Phoenix

        Sounds good. Even though I won’t have much of a clue of what you guys are using, I’m sure that the reports will still be entertaining. Then, you can get that out of your system to return to Fantasy 🙂

  4. A well written battle report which was very easy to follow. I’ve just bought a load of Beastmen myself and will hopefully have them ‘battle ready’ in the next few weeks. Do you see harpies as having any use other than taking out war machines? I’m going to convert some using Ungor and Tyranid Gargoyles. I’m just wondering if it’s worth all the effort.

    I’d appreciate if you’d take the time to look at my first ever report and let me know what you think.

    • Thanks for the kind words, and congratulations on picking up a Beastmen army. They are highly satisfying to play and paint, but they are much more forgiving on the painting table than on the gaming table!

      Harpies have a lot of uses, and probably could be worth a lengty post in their own right. If anything they are the trickiest of the units I regularly use for Beastmen, in the sense that most combat units just have to line up against something that gives them a reasonable match-up, then walk forward and beat face (obviously, there’s a bit more finesse than that, but you can’t afford to be hanging about getting shot). Scouting Harpies are good taking out war machines and lone wizards, and at the very least they are enough of a threat to the latter to force them to hide in units. I don’t mind throwing them into the flank of small non-combat units if they have a decent chance of winning, particularly if their target is outside general and BSB range. Bear in mind though that almost everything is going to be steadfast against them and they can’t take a hit back so you need to hit flanks or rears to minimise return attacks. Leaving aside the chance of them actually killing anything (it’s not especially likely), they are excellent redirectors as they are highly mobile so they can get where you need them to delay some horrendous combat block from smashing you until you can get a favourable charge later on. This is especially effective against frenzied units as they must over-run, potentially into somewhere awkward or far from the action. If someone flees a charge from your main herds then declaring a charge with Harpies can either send them further, or back towards your first unit depending on where you are. Finally, even if all else is lost you can use them to hem in vanguard moves, which can be handy against annoying units like Outriders. If you can be bothered to look through my old posts I have used Harpies in a good number of games (indeed, I think they appear in almost all of my lists these days) and you might get some ideas of their capabilites.

      So to summarise, Harpies are great. In my gaming group, people always consider them when making their army lists and ensure that they bring some anti-Harpy measures (magic missiles are particularly bad news for Harpies).

      I look forward to seeing your Ungor / Gargoyle conversions (Ungoyles?). Good luck, and feel free to ask more questions if you’d like to know anything specific about how I play Beastmen (an excellent blog about Beastmen is The Nerd Also Rises; you might get better advice there).

      • Wow! Thanks for all the info. I’ve never been quite sure about all this ‘redirecting’ lark, but you’ve cleared it up pretty concisely there. Cheers!

        I’ll be facing Orcs or Empire mainly so not a great deal of frenzied units. In the absence of ranged attacks on my side, would you recommend using the harpies to get in the way of all the annoying chaff? In terms of the Orcs I’m talking mangler squigs and pump wagons. This would allow my main units to get stuck into theirs and limit possible casualties.

  5. You might be surprised actually when it comes to frenzied units. Any Orc & Goblin player worth his choppas will almost certainly field a unit of Savage Orcs, most likely big ‘uns with extra hand weapons. These guys are absolutely brutal, and can pound the ever loving snot out of almost anything they go up against. Thankfully, they are frenzied, so just park your Harpies in their way, close enough they cant wheel to avoid you, and at a nice angle so that when he charges and closes the door, he’s pointed away from your units. When they blend the harpies out of existence (and believe me, they will!), the frenzied Orcs will be obliged to over-run, off in an unhelpful direction.

    As for Empire, about the only combat unit with any killing power to speak of in the entire army book, are Flagellents who are helpfully frenzied! You can also use them to get in the way of knights, but to be honest Knights dont really have all that much killing power, they’re mostly just annoying to kill with their 1+ armour saves, but Bestigors are pretty good at tin-opening duties there. Throwing harpies into a steam tank is also a great move, since in YOUR turn only the engineer can make his single feeble attack at the harpies, since the tank can only generate steam points in it’s own turn. When it grinds the harpies to death in it’s own turn, it cannot over-run or reform, leaving it just sitting there, ready for another few harpies or ungor raiders in your next turn. Repeat until game end. When dealing with Empire war machines, your priority is probably any Helblaster Volley guns, since they’re actually dangerous (especially with an attendant engineer). Cannons are only really an issue if you have monsters you want to not get cannon-splatted, mortars are worthless being only S2 against your largely T4 army, and Helstorm rockets are laughably inaccurate.

    Mostly though you shouldn’t have terribly many problems with the new Empire book, your troops are easily superior to anything they can field, with the only real dangers being Flagellents (frenzied and easily re-directable), Steam tanks (Keep busy with throw-away chaff units), and Helblasters (Kill with harpies, though the amber spear is also a not terrible way of taking them out if you use the boosted version).

    Hope that helps.

    • As ever, Furycat has the answer in detail. I could also add that if you use the random terrain (we do, but we often forget about it in the midst of the battle) then the Altar of Khaine can make units frenzied.

      It’s probably worth noting that blocking and redirecting is still useful even against non-frenzied units though. Keeping some huge horrible unit out of your hair for a turn, at the low cost of only a few irritating Harpies (or, even better, Ungor Raiders), can allow your other herds to kill off other units without fear of reprisal.

      Specifically with Mangler Squigs I would try to get a herd of Raiders to sit on them. Sure they’ll die, but it is a worthwhile trade to get rid of something so dangerous. Don’t go into any battle expecting that your Raiders or Harpies will come out of it alive; they are there to be annoying and clog things up for your opponent. For Pump Wagons, you’ll just need to judge whether it is worth the risk that your Harpies will do nothing to it (they’re sometimes depressingly ineffective in close combat, even against weak foes; I’ve lost them to artillery crews in the past) compared to the benefit of applying Harpies elsewhere and just accepting whatever minor mayhem the Snotlings can accomplish.

      I hope that helps, but ultimately (of course) you need to play the game and get a feel for what your units can and can’t do, and therefore when you can afford to accept a flank charge rather than throwing in some chaff unit to redirect. Good luck.

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